Fasting is a spiritual discipline and practice that works no matter who implements it. That’s why so many different religions incorporate it. Today, we treat fasting very casually and view it as optional. However, when Jesus spoke about fasting, He would say, “when you fast…” Fasting should be a regular practice of Believers.
In this episode, I lay out:
- What fasting is
- The benefits of fasting
- What stops us from fasting
- Types of fasts
- Tips for getting started with fasting, including how to determine the length of your fast, how to decide what to fast from, and things to incorporate during your fast
What is Fasting
To fast is to temporarily give up satisfying a craving of the body in order to focus and give extra attention to a spiritual need. It has also been defined as an act of worship and reverence of God. It’s an intentional act to eliminate distractions and seek God in a deeper way.
Fasting is suppressing your appetite for something in exchange for growing your appetite for God. The time you used to give to the appetites you have for food or social media or whatever, is now being set aside for God.
Fasting puts our flesh and soul into submission to our spirit. The Greek word for spirit is pneuma which means breath. When we look at how the word pneuma is used in the Bible, one of the ways it’s used is to show that spirit is the influence which fills and governs the soul. This is how we know that our soul is supposed to submit to our spirit.
I just mentioned three different things that I want to break down so that we are on the same page about them. Those things were our flesh, soul, and spirit, which make up every single human on this earth.
Our flesh or body is the physical, tangible part of us that we can see with our eyes. When scripture mentions the flesh it can mean our body but a good amount of times it is actually referring to our human nature; the earthly nature of humans that is separated from divine influence, which makes it prone to sin and opposed to God. Fasting deals with both aspects of the flesh—human nature and the physical parts of our body that we can see and feel.
We even find out some of the works and fruit of operating in the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Galatians 5:19-21. Apostle Paul tells us that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die…”
So, you understand why we have to put our flesh under submission? It can lead us straight to hell.
Your soul is comprised of your mind, your conscience, your will, and your emotions. You use your mind to perceive things and to think. It is your processor. Your conscience is the part of you that is aware. You often use your conscience to evaluate and assess the morality and appropriateness of your actions. It’s your measuring tool for what’s right and what’s wrong. Your will is what you use for decision making. In other words, your will is what you use to exercise power over your emotions and your actions. Finally, your emotions are what allow you to feel.
None of these things were designed to rule us or guide our decision making. We were created to be led by our spirits. Our body and soul were designed to operate in service of our spirit.
Our spirit is the essence of who we are. It’s the part of us that God speaks to because God is a spirit. God places our spirit in juxtaposition with our flesh.
Romans 8:6-8 tells that, “the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
This lets us know point blank that when we’re operating based on human nature and what is pleasing to us, then there’s a huge chance that we are not doing what pleases God.
I think that the flesh and spirit being directly opposed to one another is why some people don’t really see results from fasting until they fast from food. Flesh wants physical food. Our spirit wants spiritual food, which is the word of God. Remember Jesus tells us that man shall not live by bread alone, but by what? By every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Starving yourself of physical food edifies your spirit.
Benefits of Fasting
This list is not exhaustive because the reasons to fast are numerous and likely immeasurable.
1. Connection with God
Because God is a Spirit who speaks to your human spirit, when you fast you are able to hear and sense Him.
2. Build up your spirit
Fasting is like lifting weights in the spirit. When you are into the spirit and building your spirit, the anointing increases in your life. It is the anointing that breaks stubborn yokes from off of someone’s life. Fasting helps us tap into the strength of God
3. Revelation, direction, and clarity.
If you are praying for God to tell you what to do about something then go on a fast. One reason why fasting is effective in getting revelation, direction, and clarity and overall hearing from God is not because it forces God to respond. We can’t force God to do anything. That’s manipulation and witchcraft. The reason why fasting gets an answer is because it removes a barrier that blocks us from hearing. That barrier is pride. Pride puts us in direct opposition to God. James 4:6 tells us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Pride is a huge block to getting answers to our prayers. “There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil people.” See Job 35:12. The Greek word that pride is translated from is defined as an arrogant or presumptuous estimate of one’s means or merits. We put a lot of stake in our own ability to do and make things happen for ourselves and this puts in opposition to God.
Why would God reveal something to someone who is against Him?
That isn’t to say He doesn’t do it at times. He does, which is how the lost end up getting saved. I’m just pointing out the fact that we just can’t assume he will do it.
The reason why fasting specifically helps us get answers and insight from God is because fasting humbles the soul [Psalm 69:10, GNT]. Humble means lowly. It also means reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission. Fasting brings our flesh and soul, which is composed of our mind, will, conscience, and emotions, the aspect of us that creates pride in the first place—fasting moves all that into its rightful place, which is low to the ground, lol. Fasting moves pride right on up out of the way.
2 Chronicles 7:14 paints a picture of what happens when we humble ourselves. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Another reason why fasting is great when you want revelation, direction, and clarity...
… is because it strengthens your spirit. It’s because God is a spirit. So when God speaks to us, the part of us he speaks to is our human spirit, which is a large reason why most people struggle to hear him. Their spirits are significantly malnourished.
We rely way too much on our mind, will, intellect, and emotions. These things are so fragile. Will Smith talked about this in his book Will after he played around with method acting.
Because it’s fragile, we don’t need to rely on it. We have to be tapped into our spirit. When you fast, your spirit becomes sensitive to the things of the spirit. You’ll see visions and hear things and sense things that you have been missing
Let me just say this about revelation and direction. The enemy hates revelation, so if you’re fasting for revelation, direction, and clarity know that you may have some resistance. An excellent example of this is Daniel.
You may have heard of the Daniel fast but I think that the fast itself has been popularized to the detriment of the truth of what the fast provided, which is a revelatory breakthrough. It’s outlined in Daniel 10 so go read, but for now here’s the cliff notes version.
Daniel had a vision from God one day and based on his interpretation and understanding of the vision, Daniel knew that there was going to be a great conflict coming to Jerusalem, and this took him into a period of sadness and mourning. He starts a partial fast. I’ll explain partial fasts later but basically, he removes certain things from his diet.
The Real Reason for the Daniel Fast
Contrary to popular belief, Daniel wasn’t doing a 21 day fast. He was fasting until he received a word from the Lord. The word just so happened to come after the third week; 21 days. While Daniel was fasting, an angel appeared to give him revelation about his vision. The angel also gave him the scoop on what happened during his journey.
The angel says to Daniel, listen from the first day you decided to understand and to humble yourself (how did he humble himself? He fasted. Fasting humbles the soul) before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days.
That isn’t even the message the angel had for Daniel but it’s powerful in and of itself because it shows the power of fasting and humility AND just how hard the devil fights revelation.
Let me explain what I mean about the devil fighting revelation, which requires me to talk about the prince of the kingdom of Persia. On first read, it can seem like the angel is referring to a human ruler. He isn’t. Think about it, how could a human hold up an angel? We can’t. This angel is referring to a demonic principality.
Principalities, powers, rulers, etc....
A principality is the highest rank of the kingdom of darkness, which is the kingdom ruled by satan. The structure of his kingdom is revealed in Ephesians when the Apostle Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” My pastor satan’s kingdom as being highly organized, committed, and disciplined and I could not agree with him more. Their entire structure and focus is set against humanity…us.
According to Rev. James Solomon in his book Deliverance from Demonic Covenants and Curses, which is an amazing book btw, but in this book Rev. Solomon describes principalities as being a “well-arranged hierarchy like the army, the navy, and the air force.” He further says that principalities “have more than 50,000 demons in their hierarchy, and under each “commanding demon,” there are usually more than 20,000 demons.
Now that we have a better understanding of principalities, we can see just how hard satan was fighting for Daniel to not receive the revelation from God.
4. Helps break strongholds
Isaiah 58:6 tells us that fasting helps break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke.
5. Aids in the removal of spiritual blocks
Evangelist John Ramirez summed this up in his book Fire Prayers. “Many believers who want to know their purposes and destinies labor in prayer and even fast, with few, if any, results. The devil has arranged to block their progress. Instead of fasting and praying about their destinies, they should be fasting and praying to curse and dismantle the devil’s hindrances and delays. They need to move the spiritual rocks out of the way so the spiritual water can flow. Then, in the Lord’s timing, His blessings will rain down and His plan will become clear.” – John Ramirez, Fire Prayers
Why don’t people fast?
If I had to guess why people don’t fast I would say that it’s likely because of one of the following reasons:
Lack of knowledge.
Many people just don’t understand what it is. They don’t understand the power of it. Nor do they understand the benefits. Understanding is crucial because understanding gives you that extra push you need in order to see something through to the end.
Lack of hunger/desire.
When we are driven by things that are not of God, then we see fasting is an inconvenience. There’s a quote from John Piper that says, “the absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of Christ. If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world, our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
People are slaves to their flesh.
They let their body tell them what to do. We were never meant to be led by our flesh and our soul. We are supposed to be commanding our body to come into agreement with the word of the Lord.
Types of Fasts
There are a few different types of fasts that I have come across.
1. Normal Fast
A normal fast involves abstaining from food for a period of time. Water is still consumed during this type of fasting.
2. Partial Fast
A partial fast is a diet restriction where a person abstains from eating certain foods. This is the type of fast that Daniel was on when he received the revelation from the angel of the Lord.
3. Absolute Fast
An absolute fast is the total abstinence of food and water. from eating and drinking. This is the type of fast Paul did when he fasted for three days. Acts 9:9.
Tips for Fasting
I have a couple of general tips for fasting.
1. Determine the length of the fast.
There is no hard and fast rule about the length. Some people fasted for one day (Judges 20:26), one night (Daniel 6:18-24), three days (Acts 9:9), seven days (2 Sam 12:16-23), fourteen days (Acts 27:33-34), and forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9). So the length can vary. The best way to determine the length of your fast is by consulting God and asking Him how long it should be.
2. Do it in secret.
Don’t be running around telling everyone you’re fasting. Matthew 6:17-18 outlines this for us. It says, “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
3. Decide what to fast from.
Seek God and ask if you should fast from food, social media, TV, or whatever. If you have historically not been able to hear God AND if after asking him what to fast, you still don’t hear, then I recommend you fast from food and media. Whatever you fast from must be a sacrifice to you. David says, “I will not bring to the Lord what costs me nothing.” It makes absolutely no sense for me to fast from TV because I already don’t watch television.
4. Be in expectation!!
This is very important. A great way to be in expectation is to go and find scriptures to meditate on that are aligned with what you are in expectation of. Whatever you’re expecting will be your prayer and fasting focus areas, which is my next tip.
5. Pray and read the word.
As you fast, you want to replace the sacrifice with prayer and reading the word. If you’re fasting from food, then during the moments when you would normally eat or even when you think about food, pray. In his book, Fasting for Breakthrough and Deliverance, Apostle John Echardt says this about prayer.
“When you pray, you are enforcing victory over satan that was won at the Cross. You are executing the judgments written against him through your prayers. You are reinforcing the fact that principalities and powers have been spoiled. Prayer is also one of the ways that we release the will of God upon the Earth. We must study the Word of God in order to know the will of God. This is why prayer and the Word must be combined.”
If you enjoyed this episode about fasting as a spiritual discipline, then you may also enjoy the episode of the show about the truth about spiritual discipline or this episode detailing fun and easy tips to study the bible.
- Fasting for Breakthrough and Deliverance by Apostle John Echardt
- Fasting: The Key to Releasing God’s Power in Your Life by Derek Prince
- Deliverance from Demonic Covenants and Curses by Rev. James Solomon
- Fire Prayers: Building Arsenals That Destroy Satanic Kingdoms by John Ramirez
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
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